Local housing market off to good start for year

Culpeper County home sales had a relatively good start to the year, according to a report released May 1 by Virginia Realtors and the Greater Piedmont Realtors.

There were more homes sold in the first quarter than a year ago, and prices continue to climb in many local markets. Those factors led to a large increase in total sold dollar volume in the GPR footprint this quarter ($44 million more) compared to last year. 

It took slightly longer to sell homes, on average; however, the inventory of active listings declined rapidly.

Like the rest of the country and Virginia, the Greater Piedmont Region is feeling the economic impact of COVID-19. The first quarter 2020 housing market data do not reflect the current economic situation. Since February, more than 22 million Americans, including more than 400,000 Virginians, have applied for unemployment benefits.

Housing market activity will slow in the Greater Piedmont area in the 2nd quarter of 2020, Realtors say, though strong underlying fundamentals going into the COVID-19 pandemic will help the region’s market rebound. 

Key highlights from the housing and economic data this month include:

There were 478 sales throughout the GPR footprint in the first quarter, 23% more sales than a year ago.

At $356,000, the first-quarter median sales price in the Greater Piedmont housing market rose 3% from last year, a gain of $12,000.

There were 547 active listings on the market in the GPR area at the end of the first quarter, a 37% drop from this time last year.


Culpeper Snapshot

Sales — Sales activity continues to expand in Culpeper County. There were 158 sales in the first uarter, 25 more sales than last year, which is a 19% increase. Sales have been trending up in the County for four straight quarters.

Home Prices — Prices are climbing in the Culpeper County housing market. At $319,900, the first-quarter median sales price is $4,900 higher than last year, a 2% gain. Prices have been trending up in the county for several years.

Active Listings — There were 168 active listings on the market in Culpeper County at the end of the first quarter, a 48% plunge from last year, a reduction of 157 active listings. The inventory has been declining rapidly the past 3 quarters in the county.

Days on Market — Homes that sold in the first quarter in Culpeper County were on the market an average of 69 days, which is one day longer than a year ago. The average days on market in the county has increased six of the past eight quarters.


Economic Overview

Job growth had slowed slightly in the Greater Piedmont region in 2019, but the region was on course to end 2019 with positive job growth. The strongest job growth in 2019 was in the Health Care & Social Assistance and Administrative and Waste Management sectors. Last fall, the Construction sector also experienced an increase in jobs. Unemployment has been very low throughout 2019 and into early 2020. The unemployment rate in the Greater Piedmont region was 2.5% in February 2020, lower than both the national and statewide unemployment rates.

Consumer confidence took a dip in March, though confidence in the present economic situation remains strong so far. Among residents of the South Atlantic region of the U.S., which includes Virginia, the measure of confidence in current economic conditions was 168.4 in March, down slightly from February, but still in positive territory. The measure of consumers’ confidence in future economic conditions fell to 99.4 in March. The future expectations metric had been trending down beginning at the end of 2019. A level below 100 indicates consumers are feeling more pessimistic about future economic conditions.

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